Saturday proved the ideal day to get on with the final phase of cutting back the borders and the herb garden – cold, dry, no wind with a bit of sun thrown in. We’ve been cutting back the borders in phases this winter, trying to leave features of interest for our winter visitors, human and avian! But now, there are signs of life, green shoots on stems, swelling buds, clusters of new leaves, emergent bulbs – living interest, and it’s time to clear away the brown to make way for the green!
Another day’s work or so should clear the herbaceous borders, and then it’s on with the hybrid tea roses. I like to leave them until late February/early March as it’s much easier to see where the new growth is coming through, making it easier to know where to prune. I also think that leaving the old stems in place perhaps provides a bit of winter protection, reducing the risk of post-pruning winter die-back.
I’m not sure the Verbena bonariensis is going to pull through this winter. It is a bit of a tender customer in this part of the world. The plants were grown from seed in 2011 and sailed through last winter but it was very much milder. I’m hopeful that at least some will survive and, a little like the roses, I don’t prune them hard back until they are showing signs of active growth, which should be around April/May. We can always grow some replacements from seed; planting them in April, they should be in flower by late August.
And then the snow returned! Overnight, the garden once again turned white, showing that winter isn’t quite over yet!